CHARLES DICKENS Major works and themes Dickens great gift was inventiveness. He created whole worlds of characters, exaggerated but unforgettable. Dickens symphathies with the oppressed, shows indignation against social injustice. -“Oliver Twist” marks the beginning of social criticism= exploitation of children and the cruelty of the workhouses. -“A Christmas Carol” = a conversion of a (..) to the spirit of Christmas. - “David Copperfield” =(a coming of age novel, the most autobiographical) -“Bleak house”= a satire on English administration of justice. - “Hard Times”= bearing on education and on the hardships of the working class during the industrial revolution. Dickens plot The effect of serial publication on the structure, tone and content of the novels were considerable. Dickens needed to maintain interest from one episode to another. He ends each episode with dramatic turn of events that provoked suspense in the reader who would naturally buy the next issue to learn how the story continued. This accounts for the abundance of characters, of climaxes and of improbable coincidences in the plot and sub-plot as a whole. Dickens’ characters His characters are portrayed as caricatures embodying particular vices or virtues rather than as reallife people with psychological depth. Some of this characters have become part of the English language. For example “Fagin” (from “Oliver Twist”) is synonym of “thief” An Urban novelist Dickens’ characters are people from all walks of life: gentlemen, lawyers, industrialist, laboures… Most of them were city dwellers. He was fascinated by urban life; many of his novels were set in London, but there were exceptions: “Hard times” was set in Coketown, a typical grim town probably inspired by Preston, in the industrial North of England. Dickens’ legacy in the English language Dickensian= of a reminiscent of the novels of Charles Dickens, especially in suggesting the poor social condition or comically repulsive characters that they portray. His influence on the English language is multi-layered and articulated. He had a fundamental role in spreading words that already existed in English, but were totally unknown. He also used popular slang expression such as “butter fingers”. Proper names became legendary; Scrooge itself means “a miserable and mean person”. The plot of Dickens’s novels His novels were influenced by the Bible, fairytales, fables and nursery rhymes by the 18th century novelist and essayist, and by gothic novels. His plots are well planned even if they sound a bit artificial, sentimental and episodic publication in montly or weekly instolments create pressure on dickens to confirm the public taste. London was the setting for most of his novels. His middle class characters are often stirised, He developed a radical social view. He was aware of the spiritual and material corruption under the impact of industrialism. In his mature works he drew popular attention to public abuse, evils and wrongs by juxtaposing terrible description of London misery and crime with amusing sketches of the town. Characters Dickens created caricatures. He exaggerated and ridiculed the peculiar social characteristics of the middle, lower and lowest classes. His female characters were weak and black and white. He was always on the side of the poor and the outcast. A didactic aim He wants to teach and to entertain; he uses both an omniscient narrator either a 1st or 3rd person who directly comments the development of the events and on an observer one who influences the readers and leads him to share his point of view. Children are often the most important characters in his novels. He gives instances of good children and worthless parents or hypocritical adults. He reverses the natural order of things, by making children the moral teachers instead of the taught, the examples instead of the imitators. He makes his readers love his children and putting the forward as models of the way people ought to behave to one another. This didactic position was very effective, since the results was that the more educated, the wealthier classes throughout England acquired a knowledge of their poorer neighbor of which many were previously ignorant. His task was never to induce revolution, or even encourage discontent, but to get the common intelligence of the country, in all its different classes alike, to alleviate suffering against social injustice. Style and reputation He employed the most effective language and gives powerful descriptions of life and characters by means of a careful choice of adjectives, repetitions of words and structures, juxtaposition of images and ideas and ironic remarks. Use of humors and grotesque register. Good and bad According to Dickens the good is always rewarded. While the bad is punished so there is the necessity of a balance to be maintain and the existence of a sort of destiny or fad god looking on all human actions. The good character is always good and it is not corrupted by the evil around him. Childhood Children are the leading characters in many of Dickens’s novels. He denounces the abuse or exploitation of children and the pragmatic and purely national education imposed in the Victorian schools. Like the romantics he considered children as symbols of innocence. Their age is considered the most important phase in shaping the Victorian individuals as a model of virtue, endourance against social injustice. London London is a busy chaotic city divided into suburbs corresponding to different social classes. The perfect site for villains like Fagin in “Oliver Twist”. East London becomes a mysterious end and menacing labyrinth, while the good prevails in the rich West and suburbs. He distinguished between two cities separated by a sort of no-man’s land which is London bridge. He also distinguished between two social classes. From “Oliver Twist” award he portrays a third city and his characters now move freely across the three areas. The third London becomes the real and the narrative space of the dominant middle class.